From solar arrays and new cabins to master site planning, marketing strategy, and leadership development, 2022 was an exciting year for many United Methodist camps and retreat centers. What inspired this wave of development and innovation? In early 2022, the United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries (UMCRM) Association received word that it was granted one million dollars from an anonymous family foundation to distribute to UMC-affiliated camps and retreat ministries in the U.S. The goal of the gift was to enable individual sites and ministries to take one significant step toward long-term impact and sustainability. As nonprofit organizations, many of the 180 UMCRM-affiliated sites accomplish big things with small dollars, creatively stretching shoestring budgets while continuing to innovate to meet the needs of today’s youth, families, church, and communities, maintain and develop historic properties, and support the church’s transformational mission. In a year when camps and retreats were rallying to return from Covid shutdowns, minister with a changing church, and provide sacred places of renewal in challenging times, it was deeply meaningful to be invited to dream big and imagine what might be possible for our ministries’ future. The 2022 Ministry Impact Grant was just that invitation.
When it was announced that UMCRM had secured the grant of $1,000,000, Association members responded with enthusiasm, submitting proposals totaling $4,000,000. The review team realized that meant that only 25% of the projects could be funded. Faced with the prospect of saying “no'' to the majority of applicants, the grantors were moved by the vision and hope represented in those proposals. The compelling and wide-ranging requests received from United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries from across the country provided a window into the vast reach of their sites and programs and the untapped potential for impact. Hope, vision and generosity of spirit are contagious. The UMCRM Association’s advocacy provided inspiration and context for the ministry impact that might be accomplished through offering more “yes”es. In the process, the donor increased the gift by an additional $1,500,000, more than doubling the original pledge, for a total of $2.5M from the granting foundation! The UMCRM Association had the joy of distributing these funds to 85 projects across the in 2022, broadening the impact of United Methodist camps and retreat ministries in reaching more people with the love of Christ for a thriving future.
As so often happens when we make a positive difference in the world, we are inspired to keep making a difference; widening the impact, doing more good. Encouraged by the accomplishments of the 2022 grant cycle and success stories, photos, videos, and thanks from leaders and constituents, the donor foundation has reached out with a new proposal in 2023: a new Ministry Impact Grant of $1.7M! Sixty-eight projects at United Methodist-affiliated camps and retreat centers across the United States were recently selected for funding. These innovative projects, to be implemented by May 2024, will help to equip our ministries for a bright future of bringing lives closer to Christ. The full list of recipients is attached below.
Research conducted at United Methodist camps in 2022 shows that these vital ministries are indeed making a positive difference. Campers showed clear, consistent, and significant growth, social skills, leadership, appreciation and regard for others, and the understanding that faith is relevant for their lives, according to data from denominational camps collected by Sacred Playgrounds. View UMC survey results
As congregations and camper families choose to engage or re-engage with local UMC camps and retreat ministries in this season and in the years ahead, we are beneficiaries of the investments made in these ministries by generous givers who have come before us. We are also part of the wave of impact that ripples forward, imagining new possibilities, creating sacred spaces and places of growth for future generations of camp and retreat participants.
United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries invites you to try something new at your camp this year. Learn what’s new at your local camp, help fund a first-time camper, and join us in making a positive difference in the lives of children, youth, and adults. Find your United Methodist Camp/Retreat Center